Over the GW

Over the GW

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Over the GW‘s title refers to the one-mile trek across the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey, a trip I’ve made countless times during my escapades with friends on both sides of the Hudson River, and one familiar to many people, locals and tourists alike. Here, the specificity of this much-traveled road makes the events portrayed hit home with a shocking sense of locality. Writer-director Nick Gaglia recounts his experiences as a former drug addict checked into a corrupt rehabilitation center just across the Jersey border, a prison-like facility in which those recovering from their vices—many of them trivial by any reasonable standards—are physically and psychologically berated to the point where they believe themselves powerless without the oppressive “help” of their captors. What was advertised as a 30-day recovery program is in fact drawn out for many years for the majority of its patients; Gaglia himself spent two-and-a-half years under such false imprisonment before managing to escape, and the horrendousness of the situation only increases when it becomes clear that the entire program may very well have been designed as an insurance scam in the first place. The documentation of these ordeals is understandably (and necessarily) dramatized, and the names of the characters altered, but through the color-coded camerawork and a jittery editing scheme that emphasizes the meaninglessness of time under such circumstances (one is reminded of the final chapters of George Orwell’s 1984), the film accrues a learned sense of what it feels like to have the very fibers of one’s soul placed under a magnifying glass. While it doesn’t compare to the Clint Mansell-tinged, nightmarish vision of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, Over the GW is appropriately troubling in its evocation of humanity’s penchant for self-destruction, whether through the needle and the pipe or the greedy manipulation of those who’ve fallen too far to right themselves again by their own means.

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DVD
Distributor
7th Art Releasing
Runtime
76 min
Rating
NR
Year
2007
Director
Nick Gaglia
Screenwriter
Nick Gaglia
Cast
George Gallagher, Kether Donohue, Albert Insinnia, Nicholas Serra, Minnie Krakowsky, G.R. Johnson, Justin Swain